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Saturday 23 September 2023 | Snows Stadium, Totton | Att: 1,319


AFC TOTTON                                   3
Alfie Stanley 8mins; Adam Tomasso 35mins, 90+3mins

Ed Williams 68mins

TWO PEARLERS FROM MIDFIELDER Adam Tomasso and Alfie Stanley’s sixth goal of the season ensured that goalkeeping stalwart Lewis Noice celebrated his 100th AFC Totton appearance in all competitions with a home victory over bottom of the table Swindon Supermarine at the Snows Stadium (Saturday 23 September 2023).

The visitors finished just two points and one place outside the Southern League Premier Division South Promotion Play-Off places last season, but came to the Snows Stadium on Saturday with just one point from their first eight matches of the 2023/24 league campaign. They arrived under new management following the midweek appointment of the former Cardiff City, Luton Town and Eastleigh striker Stuart Fleetwood, who played more than 70 games for The Marine between 2018 and 2020. He succeeds previous boss Lee Spalding in the managerial hot-seat at the Webbswood Stadium.

Jimmy Ball named an unchanged side from the team that triumphed at National League North side Gloucester City in the Emirates FA Cup last weekend, with injured skipper Mike Carter and second-choice goalkeeper Nico Trojanowski stepping down due to there being two fewer places available on the substitutes’ bench in the Southern League Premier Division South.

AFC-Totton-badge.pngAFC TOTTON
Starting XI

1.  Lewis NOICE
5.  Charlie KENNEDY
15.  Sam MAGRI
7.  Joseph OASTLER
3.  Jordan RAGGUETTE
8.  Adam TOMASSO
17.  Leon MALONEY
10.  Ethan TAYLOR
9.  Scott RENDELL (Capt.)
16.  Alfie STANLEY
2.  Benny READ
6.  Luke HALLETT
11.  Matty BURROWS
20.  Harry THOMAS

Wearing similar kit designs, it was a case of the all-blues of AFC Totton against the all-reds of Swindon Supermarine, who were in their changed strip. Both teams were greeted onto the pitch by a guard of honour made up of flag-waving boys and girls from the AFC Totton youth ranks. Lewis Noice was presented with a magnum of Champagne by his manager Jimmy Ball and the club’s CEO Steve Brookwell, before the teams observed a minute’s silence in memory of Steve Whitney, the Southern League’s Media Officer who sadly passed away on Thursday.

AFC Totton began the match attacking the goal closest to the Calmore roundabout. After an inauspicious first few minutes, Ragguette picked out Ethan Taylor with a cross-field pass that put the winger in-behind central defender James Edge, but as he tried to thread a pass into the feet of Alfie Stanley, Malik Sesay got back to punt the ball wide for a corner. Totton failed to take advantage of the set-piece and were almost caught out on the counter-attack, before Jo Oastler, making his AFC Totton home debut, got back to make a decisive interception.

The Stags went ahead after just eight minutes. From a long ball forward, Taylor stole into the right-hand side of the Supermarine penalty area, doing well to hold off a defender as the ball dropped. Sesay tried to stand up to him but a short, low pass towards the near post found Scott Rendell sliding in to apply the finish. Solid defending by right-back Sam Turl blocked Rendell’s effort but the centre-forward was quickly back to his feet at the byline to slip the ball to Alfie STANLEY who side-footed home from five yards.

Alfie Stanley-6_AFC Totton vs Sholing_FACup1RQ_Sat02Sep2023.jpg
SIX FOR STANLEY: Former Portsmouth Academy striker Alfie Stanley took his season's tally to half-a-dozen with AFC Totton's opening goal of the game at home to Swindon Supermarine.

Jordan Ragguette charged forward from his left-back berth before laying the ball off to Taylor, whose cross was deflected behind for a corner. From a short corner, Ragguette drifted infield at the edge of the penalty area but his right-footed attempt was charged down before Supermarine cleared their lines.

Despite being a goal down, Swindon Supermarine settled into a confident passing game, moving the ball around the pitch in a similar manner that home fans are used to seeing from AFC Totton. But, for all their possession, the visitors rarely stretched or threatened the home defence with a decisive pass or a penetrative through-ball. Oastler did well to step out of the defensive line to intercept one pass that was intended to release George Dowling down the right wing. The former Havant & Waterlooville man carried the ball out of defence but his forward pass was wayward.

Rendell forced a right-wing corner, which Taylor drilled low into the box. Dowling was alive to it and cleared before anyone in blue could apply the finished touch. Ragguette then had to shift his body quickly to prevent the visitors getting away on the counter-attack. Then, Taylor was put through by Stanley, only to tread on the ball and lose his footing.

A cross from Swindon left-back Ryan Campbell almost caught Lewis Noice out at his top-left corner, but The Stags keeper saw it all the way. An offside flag would have ruled it out, anyway. Then, a couple of incidents close to the touchline on the same side as the two dug-outs raised the temperature of the game. Firstly, Oastler was booked for a foul that occurred off the side of the pitch after the ball had already run out for an AFC Totton throw. Then, what looked like a painful collision of knees between Swindon defender James Edge and Rendell had the Stags’ No.9 writhing on the ground in agony before he could receive treatment. The Swindon Supermarine skipper was shown the yellow card for his part. From the resulting free-kick, Leon Maloney curled the ball dangerously into the box but Stanley couldn’t get his head to it and Evans gratefully gathered the ball to his chest.

Swindon resumed their possession football, forcing Totton back into their own half. But well-timed tackles from Ben Winterburn and Rendell enabled Taylor to run at Zack Kotwica, forcing the midfielder back towards his own goal before drawing a foul in a similar position to the previous free-kick. Maloney’s cross was met by the head of Oastler, who had managed to escape his marker but not the offside flag of the Referee’s Assistant on the far side.

A clever overload by Swindon Supermarine as they were passing the ball around enabled a cross-field pass to Sam Turl, pushing up from right-back, but Noice read the situation and came out to clear.

Totton tried to attack on the right edge of the area in the 36th minute, where Maloney was caught dawdling in possession. He managed to win the ball back, though, to enable Stanley to play a quick, sharp one-two with Rendell and advance into a shooting position from a tight angle to the right of goal, only for his effort to rebound back to him off the feet of Louis Evans. He tried to slip the ball infield to Taylor, who was arriving in the middle, but a defender’s foot flicked the ball up and away. With his back to goal, Rendell briefly looked as though he was contemplating something inadvisedly acrobatic for a man of his advancing years, but before he could finish the thought, the ball was hooked out of the area by Joe Tumelty to where Adam TOMASSO had time and space, 25 yards from goal, to take a touch and bury a right-footed howitzer into the left corner of the Swindon Supermarine net for his first goal of the season.

Adam Tomasso-3_AFC Totton vs Sholing_FACup1RQ_Sat02Sep2023.jpg
TWO-GOAL TOMMY: Midfielder Adam Tomasso weighed in with two outstanding strikes from outside the box to see AFC Totton to a 3-1 home win.

Swindon resumed their passing football and managed to create half an opening when Dowling and Kotwica exchanged passes to play their way into the inside-left channel, before Joe Tumelty went for goal, winning a corner on the right via a deflection. Jake Andrews played a low cross into the box which was met by the deftest of touches by Dowling, enough to wrong-foot Lewis Noice and the entire Totton defence but the ball trickled wide of the far post.

Adam Tomasso had the chance to score another goal soon after, when Taylor crossed from the left and Rendell controlled the ball on the edge of the Supermarine penalty area, with defenders blocking his path to goal. He slipped the ball into the overlapping run of Tomasso, whose low shot was well-saved by the knees of Evans, sliding out quickly to narrow the angle. The ball bounced around the area and Maloney tried to get hold of it, but Tumelty timed his tackle well to remove the danger.

Ethan Taylor and Sam Turl got to grips with each other on the Totton left wing, prompting the Referee to bring them together for a quick talking to. Noice had to react quickly to get to a loose ball into the area before striker Levi Irving could get there. Then, Totton worked the ball to the right flank and Maloney squared for Rendell, who couldn’t sort his feet out properly and stabbed the ball wide.

During the indicated three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, Maloney pounced on a moment’s indecision to surge forward towards the Supermarine defence, before setting up Stanley for another angled drive that was deflected wide for a corner. But from the short corner, Maloney tried a cross-shot from a tight angle on the right that flashed high, wide and handsome of the goalpost.

As the players went down the tunnel for the half-time break, Stags boss Jimmy Ball and his Assistant Manager Paul Masters remained on the pitch, plotting their scheme for a successful second half.

AFC TOTTON                                       2

Swindon got forward from the restart and won a free-kick in a central position, about 20 yards from goal, for a foul by Jo Oastler on Dowling. Jake Andrews struck the free-kick left-footed; Noice dived to his left and made a comfortable save.

Louis Evans volleyed clear Rendell’s headed knock-on before Stanley could reach it. Then, Levi Irving escaped Charlie Kennedy’s attentions to scamper through on goal from the inside-left position. Noice retreated back towards his goal when it looked as though he was going to rush out, a tame shot from Irving ultimately rendering that to be the correct decision, as Noice made an easy save on one knee.

Totton pressed Swindon back towards their own left corner flag. Stanley received the ball from a throw-in at the edge of the penalty area, with his back to goal. He tried to turn and volley left-footed, but got his angles wrong and sent the ball flying towards Salisbury Road. Then, poor passing from both sides disrupted the pattern of the game and brought some frustrated groans from the fans of either team.

Kotwica was busy issuing instructions to his teammates as the ball came to him from a left-wing throw-in. His attention returned in time to take the ball under control and spread the play to the right wing, from where the cross struck Ragguette in the centre and Noice had to respond quickly to beat Irving to the loose ball. Then, Rendell won the ball near halfway and forced it forward to Maloney, who carried the ball forward with defenders backing off. He tried to slip Stanley in ahead of him when there was perhaps a better option in taking on the shot himself. Supermarine blocked and the chance was gone.

Lewis Noice_AFC Totton Goalkeeper_Jul2023.jpg
CENTURION, CUSTODIAN: Goalkeeper Lewis Noice celebrated his 100th appearance for AFC Totton by helping The Stags to all three points against early-season struggles Swindon Supermarine.

Maloney was then replaced by Benny Read, who slotted into the right-back position with Charlie Kennedy shifting into midfield. Read’s first defensive contribution was to stop Irving working his way in from the Swindon left flank, after Sesay’s long ball up the wing, by knocking the ball out for a corner. Noice collected the delivery, unchallenged.

Taylor won a free-kick on the right of the D, after receiving Stanley’s short pass infield from the touchline and being bundled over from behind. Taylor shaped as though to shoot, then rolled the ball square for Rendell to shoot from a central position. The ball was well-aimed for the bottom-right corner but lacked the power to evade the outstretched arms of the diving keeper Evans, who did well to hold onto it with Stanley sniffing for scraps.

Strong hold-up play from Rendell outside the area enabled Read to get forward down the right flank and fire in a low centre to Taylor, who took the ball close to goal but with his back to it and a defender on top of him. He rolled it to the left where Ben Winterburn arrived and really should have put Totton three-up, but he rolled his shot wide of the left-hand post with the goalkeeper exposed.

Matty Burrows then stepped off the bench to replace Alfie Stanley, before a brief skirmish between the two No.8s had the Referee frantically blowing his whistle and teammates stepping in before both players walked away from the potentially fractious situation.

Winterburn played Taylor in down the left wing, who did well to win a corner before the ball could run out of play. Burrows sent over an in-swinging cross that was flicked on at the front post by Oastler but then carried on to fly out of play at the far touchline.

Swindon Supermarine then settled into another long period of possession, knocking the ball around the pitch with Totton having to sit back and await their chance to nick it back. On this occasion, their chance never came because when the ball came out to Ryan Campbell on the left in the 69th minute, he sent a high curling cross to the inside-right area where Ed WILLIAMS watched the ball onto his right foot and planted a well-struck volley past Noice and into the left corner of the Totton goal to halve the deficit.

Totton won another corner on the left. Burrows took it again and Oastler met it with a free header, but he couldn’t keep his effort down. Swindon went straight up the other end and won a corner of their own. The cross was flicked on at the near post, flashed across goal and wide on the far side.

Rendell brought Kennedy’s cross-field ball under control inside the Swindon box, close to the left-wing byline. From his lay-off, Winterburn and Taylor worked the ball back for Ragguette to cross from deep. The ball was headed out to the edge of the area where Tomasso’s half-volley was blocked by a defender near the penalty spot. Evans had dived towards his left corner, which Burrows tried to take advantage of by twisting, turning and shooting in one movement, his effort going straight to the keeper’s hands despite his prone position.

Supermarine substitute Liban Ibrahim, the former Paulton Rovers midfielder, was left foundering in the wake of Jordan Ragguette’s powerful charge down the left wing. With defenders backing off, he was able to steer his run infield and left fly with a shot that Evans parried out to Tomasso, who rushed his follow-up with defenders closing him, and blasted over the bar.

Eager to make an impression on the game, Matty Burrows was booked for pulling Campbell back when the Swindon left-back briefly got away from him on the flank. Jimmy Ball then withdrew Ethan Taylor and sent on striker Jake Scrimshaw.

Read conceded a free-kick on the Swindon left-wing, level with the edge of the Totton box. Tomasso headed the cross away at the near post. Scrimshaw and Burrows tried to launch a counter-attack, but Burrows was clattered to the ground in a strong tackle. He spring back to his feet, though, to receive the ball from a throw-in in what would otherwise have been an offside position. His cross found Rendell beyond the far post, and the centre-forward was able to earn corner on the left. Burrows took it and Sam Magri flew in at the near post with a diving header, which went over the bar. The big defender then needed treatment having collided with an opponent.

Campbell found space on the Swindon left and managed to curl a cross into the middle for Turl to head at goal. The ball bounced and Noice gathered, no doubt grateful it hadn’t been directed to either side of him.

Burrows, who had started on the right when he came on as sub, had to track Ibrahim’s run down the opposite flank to prevent Totton getting outnumbered around their own box, as Swindon Supermarine once again got the ball down and bossed possession. One long shot from the visitors was blocked at the edge of the Totton box, and with a few minutes of normal time to go, Dowling tested Noice with a 35-yard drive that had The Stags’ keeper saving low to his left.

Four minutes of stoppage time were indicated, and Totton were creaking under the weight of Swindon Supermarine’s possession football. The visitors had a corner on their right which was partially cleared. But as the ball dropped between Burrows and Campbell, it was the Supermarine left-back who came away with it and he drilled a low shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

Tumelty was shown a yellow card for a late foul on Kennedy, as Totton tried to drive the ball away from their own penalty area. Then, just when Totton needed a release valve, Benny Read exchanged passes with Winterburn to scamper down the right touchline with defenders chasing in his wake. When he might have gone to the corner flag and tried to eat up time, he instead attempted to pick out Scrimshaw in the middle. The cross was slightly over-hit and Scrimshaw did well to get the ball under control and force it back to Ragguette, who rolled it infield to the edge of the D. With time to take a touch, Adam TOMASSO picked his spot with a low curler off his right instep, beyond the outstretched left hand of Louis Evans into the bottom corner for his second goal of the game, and the one that put the three points beyond doubt.

Jimmy Ball_AFC Totton Manager_AFC Totton vs Hamworthy United_Pre-Season-7_Sat29Jul2023.jpg

After the match, AFC Totton Manager Jimmy Ball (pictured) said:

“That was a different kind of experience for us, today. We’re not used to having to let the opposition boss possession like that. It reminded me of the pre-season game here against Bognor Regis Town. You have to give a lot of credit to Swindon Supermarine. They certainly didn’t play like a team that is languishing at the bottom of the table, and if they play like that under their new manager, I don’t think they will be down their much longer. But, for all their possession, I thought we were pretty comfortable. They weren’t able to get at us or really hurt us, and when it came down to it, we were better in both boxes - and that’s where it really counts.

“It’s always difficult when you’re facing a team who have just changed their manager, because everything you thought you knew about them from your scouting efforts can go straight out the window, and that was the case today. But, we adapted well and understood early on that we would have to do things slightly differently to win this one, and I’m lucky to have players of the intelligence and the quality out there on the pitch that they can see that sort of thing themselves and they reorganise. That’s where it’s important to have leaders in the team, and we have those - the likes of Scott Rendell, Charlie Kennedy, Joe Oastler now, and Mike Carter was with us on the bench. These are the sort of players you can trust to read what’s happening and then take the responsibility to change it if it needs changing.

“You saw it with Benny Read, late on, too. He could have tried to waste time but he saw an opportunity to hurt the opposition and put the game to bed and he went for it. And, even though what he tried initially didn’t come off, that third goal stemmed from his decision. It’s great for me as a manager to have players who are prepared to take risks at the right time and in the right way; that’s what wins you football matches.

“Adam Tomasso came up with a couple of excellent goals from outside the box. It’s an odd one, because he’s a really good finisher in training so you do wonder why he doesn’t score about 10 goals a season, but maybe those two today will encourage him to have more shots on goal when he gets the chance. Those were certainly two lovely strikes that deservedly won us the game.”

The latest Southern League Premier Division South table

AFC Totton's Fixtures for 2023/24

Southern League Premier Division South | Matchday#9 | Privett Park, Gosport PO12 3SX | Wednesday 27 September 2023 | Kick-Off at 7:45pm

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

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